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Inside My Digital camera Bag | Sheena Shahangian


I’m Sheena Shahangian and I’m a Colorado-based elopement photographer specializing in documenting adventurous elopements within the Rocky Mountains and the western US.

Imagine it or not, I didn’t at all times love pictures. In actual fact, rising up I used to be that lady who would actually run away from the digital camera each time anybody tried to take my picture. So, I fully get it when {couples} inform me they get nervous across the digital camera after they first attain out to me.

I prefer to joke that considered one of my favourite issues to do is convert camera-shy individuals into individuals who really actually love being photographed. Some of the vital components of my job helps my {couples} perceive that having your elopement documented must be enjoyable, and by no means like a stale, ‘required’ merchandise in your wedding ceremony guidelines.

There are many photographers on the market who knew pictures can be their ardour from the second they picked up their first digital camera. For me, that wasn’t it. I found my love for pictures whereas in school, working as an intern for a neighborhood tech start-up that helped {couples} plan dates by way of an all-inclusive app.

My job was to go to the most effective eating places and doc my expertise to share with the app builders. I shortly fell in love with the immediacy of all of it: take a photograph, edit it, maintain onto that second eternally.

My love for documenting individuals, and particularly eloping {couples}, wasn’t precisely a straight path. I really fell in love with elopements once I was planning my very own wedding ceremony.

I knew that the entire ‘large wedding ceremony’ idea didn’t fairly really feel like me. I didn’t look after all the fluff and particulars, and the thought of studying my vows in a room full of individuals completely terrified me. So I started planning an journey elopement in my favourite nationwide park as a substitute.

I actually took a 12 months’s price of wedding ceremony planning and threw it away in change for saying my vows in a teeny tiny personal ceremony on a sand dune in Colorado, and that have fairly actually modified my life.

At this level, I had transitioned into photographing individuals and weddings, however after my very own elopement, I knew in my intestine that I needed to specialize solely in elopements. So I up to date my web site branding and went all-in. You would say I’ve by no means appeared again.

I do know firsthand the pressures {couples} expertise when planning their very own weddings. I do know the nagging feeling that comes with being hyper-aware of the truth that the marriage business doesn’t give {couples} plenty of choices.

I do know what it’s prefer to really feel like I’m presupposed to be following these ‘wedding ceremony guidelines’ that don’t resonate with me. The essence of what I do as an elopement photographer is to allow and empower {couples} to ditch these guidelines in the event that they don’t resonate with them and craft an journey elopement day that actually feels prefer it’s custom-made to them.

I really began out taking pictures Nikon however ended up switching very early on to all Canon. Personally, I like the colours I get with the Canon household, which is why the swap was a no brainer for me.

I’d say my gear assortment is on the heftier facet, however what I convey to journey elopements undoubtedly varies primarily based on the kind of day I’m taking pictures. I prefer to arrive at elopements over-prepared, so I find yourself bringing extra gear than I do know I’ll use.

So far as my view on gear, performance is every part. I don’t imagine in shopping for the following cool factor just because it’s available on the market. My precedence is having gear that serves my {couples} in one of the simplest ways potential. I undoubtedly child my gear, however I believe that’s an vital a part of making certain that it lasts.


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – I’ve three of those, and they’re my infants. I take advantage of two of them on elopements days and have the third for back-up. I particularly selected this digital camera as a result of it could deal with the acute climate that’s a giant a part of residing and taking pictures within the nice outdoor in Colorado (though I do have rain covers for every digital camera physique – did I point out I child my gear?!).

The twin card slots have been additionally important for me. The considered dropping somebody’s elopement pictures as a result of a card corrupts is my nightmare. Twin card slots are like an insurance coverage plan. I additionally love the stay view on this digital camera. I’m 5’1”, which signifies that I’m shorter than virtually all my purchasers. The stay view permits me to carry my digital camera larger than my head and lock in focus with out trying by the viewfinder.


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM – Because the journey elopements I {photograph} usually contain fairly broad, expansive landscapes, the 35mm permits me to seize extra of them and get these basic ‘tiny individuals, large world’ photographs. This lens is principally at all times glued to considered one of my cameras.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM – This lens can be virtually at all times on considered one of my cameras (my customary setup for elopements is my 35mm on one digital camera physique and my 85mm on the opposite). I like to pair this one with the 35mm due to the number of photographs they provide me collectively.

I get these shut, intimate pictures with the 85mm, and the compression is totally pretty. Once I need the pictures to really feel just like the world is falling away and the persons are all that’s there, that is the lens I take advantage of. It additionally permits me to stand up shut and private (particularly throughout ceremonies) with out bodily being up shut.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM – This lens is the last word portrait lens. I principally use it for preparing pictures, however it undoubtedly doesn’t come out of my bag as a lot as my 35mm and 85mm. These are my workhorses.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM – This was one of many first lenses I bought, so it’s an previous one. It’s a complete steal, although, for the pictures it takes. I don’t use it fairly often now, however I hold it in my bag as a back-up in case one thing ever occurs and my different 50mm ever falls and breaks. You’ll be able to by no means be too ready.

This lens is actually an excellent one, and should you don’t have the price range for the f/1.2, this can be a nice possibility. I’ve additionally heard fantastic issues concerning the f/1.4, however haven’t used it personally.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM – My 35mm is the broad angle I take advantage of essentially the most. To be trustworthy, the 24mm doesn’t usually go away my bag, however it’s there in case I’m working in a very tight panorama the place the mountains are tremendous shut and I’m attempting to suit every part into my shot.

Throughout considered one of my elopements this 12 months, there was this epic switchback within the highway that I needed within the background of my shot. It was completely framing my couple, however the curve within the highway was so broad and I didn’t have house to again up. My 24mm was good for this.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – This lens is considered one of my absolute favorites in my bag. It is extremely hefty, to say the least, however it’s 100% price lugging round. I like this lens for its superb compression. Once I’m in a location the place I can again up quite a bit, I like pulling this lens out as a result of it makes mountains within the background look enormous. It may be a little bit sluggish to focus, however it’s definitely worth the effort to lock it in.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM – My macro lens is my favourite for element and ring photographs in rooms the place I’ve a stable supply of pure gentle. It permits me to stand up shut and private in a manner that no different lens can, and I like that change of perspective. A lot of what I seize is epic mountain views, however I imagine the small components of the day are vital too, and this lens permits them to shine.


Profoto A1 – I’ve two of those. I particularly selected the A1 due to the superb recycling time. I don’t prefer to miss moments, and these flashes assist make sure that I don’t. I like that it additionally comes with magnetically attachable dome diffusers and bounce playing cards. Every flash additionally has a little bit stand so it could simply be arrange as an off-camera flash if I needed it to.

One other perk is the mannequin gentle, which permits me to make use of the flash kind of like a lantern. This characteristic is superb for outside night time photographs (which I like to take!) the place I want a steady gentle supply.

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp – Technically not a pictures gentle, however my headlamp is essential with what I do. Journey elopements often require night time climbing, and this headlamp is an unbelievable gentle supply. I additionally use it to assist lock in deal with my {couples} for night time pictures, so it serves a twin objective.

Ozark Path lantern – Additionally not technically a pictures gentle, I convey my lantern with me for night time elopement pictures once we’re not climbing very far and headlamps are overkill. This lantern simply clips to my backpack, however it does add a little bit weight, which is why it’s reserved for very brief hikes or drive-up mountain overlooks.


Holdfast MoneyMaker – I hold two digital camera our bodies on me on elopement days, and the Holdfast offers me easy accessibility to them. I like that there are two factors the place you safe the digital camera physique, making certain that if one fails, my gear received’t simply crash to the bottom. I like that it has little rings on it too, so I’ve connected a carabiner to considered one of them the place I both cling my keys or a cardholder case.

Ona Presidio – For my third digital camera physique, I take advantage of the Ona Presidio. I selected this strap due to the additional cushioning it has, which helps keep away from intense marks on my neck after carrying the digital camera round for some time.

Vinta Sort II Forest Backpack – My Vinta pack is nice for storage. It holds two digital camera our bodies, three lenses, two card circumstances, and all of my spare batteries and rain covers. The bag can be waterproof, which is tremendous vital to me. Plus, to entry the principle compartment, it’s a must to take the bag off, so it’s much less vulnerable to gear theft.

It additionally slides completely below the seat in entrance of me on airplanes too (these of you who journey regularly know what a game-changer this may be!). The Vinta carries most of what I want, however some elopements do require extra gear, and that is the place my second backpack is available in.

Abonnyc DSLR Backpack – The Vinta was a splurge, however this backpack is a complete steal. It really shops greater than my Vinta and holds any additional gear I want together with location permits, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, my Garmin inReach, and my water bottle.

Mine got here with a water-proof sack that I can wrap across the bag, which isn’t essentially the most handy, however it does the job, which is what issues most. It’s a bit clunkier than the Vinta and doesn’t at all times match below airplane seats, however for the value, it’s 100% price it.


Aluminum Albott Tripod – I actually solely use my tripod for daybreak, nightfall, and night time pictures. So to be fully trustworthy, splurging on a brilliant dear one didn’t make a lot sense. I’m a giant believer that a part of being a very good enterprise proprietor is understanding when to splurge and when to price range, and that is the proper instance of that.

The truth that my tripod is aluminum makes it good and light-weight, that means it’s simpler to convey with me on climbing elopements. I do must watch out about that in tremendous windy alpine areas, although. I usually use my additional snack backpack to weigh it down so it by no means blows away or falls down.

{Hardware} & Software program

I edit with Lightroom and use Mastin Labs Portra Pushed as my base, with fairly heavy modifications. In the case of photographing journey elopements, landscapes differ fairly a bit, so whereas presets are nice, I often must make vital modifications to account for mountain-specific parts.

I edit on my 15 inch MacBook Professional. In some unspecified time in the future, I’d like to get an iMac, however I simply can’t justify it, since I hate sitting in a single place whereas modifying.

For exhausting drives, I take advantage of a mixture of Seagate drives together with SanDisk Excessive SD drives. The Seagates are all mechanical drives, that are superb to be used at house. The SD drives can take extra of a beating, so these include me once I journey. SD storage is usually a little pricier, however they’re definitely worth the peace of thoughts, so I combine it up.

Cloud storage works for some individuals, and I’ve tried it earlier than, however till it could sustain with the amount of photographs I’ve to again up, it doesn’t make sense for me. I attempted it for years however ended up canceling for that motive.


I at all times have Clif bars in my bag (I like their coffee-infused ones), and I additionally love bringing alongside their vitality chews too. I additionally at all times have a Nalgene bottle on me, particularly for elopements at elevation, the place it’s very simple to get dehydrated. Apple sauce squeeze pouches and lupini beans are additionally a few of my favorites to convey together with me on elopement days.

Usually, I’m not one to drink vitality drinks, however the elopements I doc often contain a couple of hours of driving within the mountains, and there’s nothing that retains me going fairly like throwing again a can of Sambazon whereas singing on the prime of my lungs to my favourite playlist (I make one for each season!).

Sunscreen is a should in Colorado, particularly at a better elevation. Given my olive complexion, I’m not one who simply burns, however put me on a mountain at 12,000 ft on a sunny day and also you guess I’ll go house with a sunburn. Bug spray can be useful, particularly once I doc elopements by alpine lakes. I at all times be sure that to get a DEET-free bug spray, although. I at all times advocate my {couples} convey alongside sunscreen and bug spray too.

I additionally be sure that to obtain offline Google Maps, that are essential for safely arriving on the trailhead once I’m venturing into distant areas. I even have the professional model of AllTrails that I take advantage of when climbing. It permits me to obtain an offline model of my route and see the place I’m on the path.

One other important for climbing elopements is security gear. I convey my Garmin inReach when documenting elopements in locations with no cell service so I can name for assist in emergencies. I additionally carry a primary assist package, too, and advise my {couples} to convey one as nicely. You’ll be able to by no means be too ready.

For sneakers, I put on my Kodiak Surreys for elopements with 4 or much less miles of climbing round-trip. They’re waterproof and insulated, which is superb when it’s chilly at dawn and sundown. For longer climbing elopements I put on my Ahnu climbing boots.

As a result of the mountains may be fairly chilly earlier than dawn and after sundown, I just about at all times convey alongside considered one of my fleeces. I swear by all issues Patagonia and love the corporate’s mission in direction of sustainability. Their sweaters are tremendous heat, give me loads of vary of movement, and the corporate is one I imagine in.

I additionally convey alongside a couple of useful issues for my {couples} too, like ornamental ribbons, a rose gold hanger, and a velvet ring field for preparing pictures. Whereas many {couples} convey alongside issues like this, in the event that they by accident forgot their good hanger for his or her costume, for instance, I like to have the ability to assist out.

And final however not least, I at all times be sure that to slip additional copies of elopement timelines and placement permits. Many elopement places are on public lands that require particular use permits earlier than {couples} can get married there. I like to carry onto copies of those permits on me all through the day.

The very best piece of recommendation I may give is to know when it’s price splurging on gear and when it’s not. Investing in a digital camera physique with twin slots is extra vital than having an intensive lens assortment, for instance. Once I take into consideration shopping for new gear, I keep away from what different photographers suppose is the ‘subsequent cool gadget’. As a substitute, I take into consideration what would make my workflow extra environment friendly and what’s going to give my {couples} a greater expertise.

Each buy I make is with my {couples} in thoughts. For instance, I’d completely love a tilt shift lens, however as a substitute, I lately opted to get the 70-200 as a result of I knew that it will serve my {couples} higher by offering them with a better number of photographs.

The lean shift is epic and would make for some superb pictures, however I knew I wouldn’t use it as regularly because the 70-200, so the choice was apparent for me. If there’s a lens that you’re dying to make use of however know you received’t want repeatedly, renting is a good possibility.

In the case of journey elopements, I do know I’m not going to be in a room filled with visitors with cameras and cell telephones, and that makes my job as an elopement photographer much more essential. I would simply be the one different soul current on my couple’s wedding ceremony day, and it’s vital that I’ve a set of substances that does justice to that.

All of that mentioned, I don’t use each digital camera physique and each lens I personal on elopement days. I select my lens primarily based on the locational constraints of a pair’s elopement location, together with the story their day is telling me. No two elopements are the identical, and I imagine it’s vital to acknowledge that in your gear selection too. Select the gear that tells the story finest. | @sheenashahangianphoto


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